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Homeland Security

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Al-Qaeda Second-in-Command

Ayman al-ZawahiriAyman al-Zawahiri

SupervisorOsama bin Laden
AffiliationEgyptian Islamic Jihad1,2
AffiliationAl-Qaeda majlis al shura5
AffiliationAl-Qaeda Fatwah Committee5
Full Given NameDr. Ayman Muhammad Rabi al-Zawahiri
Alias(es)Abu al-Moaz1, Abu al-Mu'iz1, Abu Abdallah1, Abu Mohammed Nur al-Deen1, Abu Fatima1, Ustaz1, The Doctor1, The Teacher1, Muhammad Ibrahim1, Dr. Abdel Abu Moez5
Alternate Spelling(s)Ayman al-Zawahri, Ayman Muhammad Rabie al-Zawahiri, Iman Zowaheri, Aiman Muhammad Rabi Al-Zawahiri, Ayman al-Zawahari
Date of BirthJune 19, 19511,2
Place of BirthGiza, Egypt2
DescriptionHair: Brown/Black. Eyes: Dark. Complexion: Olive. He wears eyeglasses.1
HistoryVeteran of Afghanistan-Soviet civil war (1980-1989)
Charged withTerrorist activities
Charging authorityEgypt
Case statusConvicted
SentenceDeath, in absentia
Charged withMurder of U.S. Nationals outside the United States; Conspiracy; Attack on a Federal Facility Resulting in Death1
Charging authorityUnited States
Case statusPending
Narrative and Notes
  • Ayman al-Zawahiri is at times described as the "brains" behind al-Qaeda. He led his Egyptian Islamic Jihad's merger with the organization, and the death of al-Qaeda military chief Mohammed Atef in late 2001 cemented his position as second-in-command of the organization.
  • He frequently issues statements and tapes; these are clear-spoken and direct, compared to bin Laden's often poetic, symbol-driven statements.
  • Al-Zawahiri assisted in the formation of al-Qaeda at the end of the Afghan-Soviet war and led Egyptian Islamic Jihad from 1993 onward. Around 1998, much of the group merged with al-Qaeda.
  • The United States government is offering a reward of $25 million for information leading to the capture of Ayman al-Zawahri.
  • Egyptian Passport Number 1084010; Alternate Number 19820215.
  • He speaks Arabic and French.
  • He is a physician.1,2
  • He may have been left out of the 9-11 plotting almost entirely. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed claims he was not informed of the operation until midsummer 2001, and that he preferred Taliban leader Mullah Omar's wishes to not go forward; other detainees, however, dispute this, saying he was fully behind Osama bin Laden.
  • Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl described an "Abu Muaz el Masry" as skilled in interpretation of visions and dreams following pre-dawn prayers for al-Qaeda members. This fits with al-Zawahiri's spiritual role in al-Qaeda, so it is likely they are the same person.5,6
    1 FBI most-wanted terrorists sheet.
    2 U.N. press release, AFG/169, Nov. 26, 2001.
    3 Thought to be with Osama bin Laden somewhere along the Afghanistan/Pakistan border.
    4 United States vs. Usama bin Laden and 20 others, Nov. 4, 1998, and updates.
    5 Jamal Ahmed al-Fadl testimony, United States vs. Osama bin Laden et al, trial transcript, Day 2, Feb. 6, 2001.
    6 The 9-11 Commission Final Report, July 22, 2004, Footnotes.
    Photos (left to right): FBI; U.S. State Department Rewards for Justice
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    Page last modified: 03-11-2006 15:41:49 ZULU